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Two Cellnex board members quit amid pressure to change leadership

Europe’s largest mobile phone tower operator Cellnex said on Tuesday two of its board members have resigned following pressure on the company’s management from its largest shareholder, activist fund TCI.

Former board chairman Bertrand Boudewijn Kan and Leonard Peter Shore, both independent directors, quit with immediate effect, citing “irreconcilable differences with the board in relation to the management, governance and succession process of the company”, the Spanish company said.

The removal of both Kan and Shore – board members since 2015 – had been requested on March 23 by Christopher Hohn who runs TCI and argued the search for a new Cellnex chief executive under way had “been mishandled by the board and resulted in insufficient progress”.

Cellnex announced last week that Kan was stepping down as non-executive chairman but remained a board member. He was replaced by board member Anne Bouverot as non-executive chair.

TCI has become Cellnex’s largest shareholder with a 9% stake, including 5.9% in derivatives, surpassing Italian group Edizione.

In his letter to the company last month, Hohn requested that TCI’s representative Jonathan Amouyal be included on the board.

In its statement on Tuesday, Cellnex did not say who would replace the outgoing board members.

The Barcelona-based group announced in January that its chief executive Tobias Martinez would step down in June after it embarked on a strategy shift away from acquisitions to focus on reducing its debt.

Reuters reported last week that Cellnex was close to hiring an adviser to help tackle demands made by TCI, sources with knowledge of the discussions said.

BNP Paribas SA, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which have advised the company in the past, are contenders for the role, the people said, requesting anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter. Reuters

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